The weather, the turnout and NAAA’s location in the center of the action couldn’t have been better at Ag Day on the Mall this week. NAAA representatives made the most of the two-day event that began on Monday and continued Tuesday on National Ag Day by talking to a multitude of policymakers, regulators, media members and everyday citizens who stopped to check out the Bell 206 LongRanger helicopter on display halfway in between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument.
In a continuation of its efforts to leverage the industry’s 100th anniversary into positive coverage, NAAA supplemented a big media relations push organized by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) with pre-event media advisories to smaller markets and by sending interesting photos and captions of U.S. senators stopping by NAAA’s helicopter display to the media, along with regular updates on NAAA’s social media channels throughout the event.
NAAA CEO Andrew Moore and President Jim Perrin were interviewed by numerous media outlets, including RFD-TV, Agri-Pulse, USDA Radio, and legendary broadcaster Max Armstrong. Armstrong is the director of broadcasting for Farm Progress and the producer and host of the Farm Progress America and Max Armstrong’s Midwest Digest daily radio programs, which are carried on more than 140 local radio stations. He is also the co-host of This Week In AgriBusiness, a weekly TV show that airs three times each weekend on RFD-TV and once a week on more than 100 local commercial television stations.
NAAA also addressed several groups of EPA staffers and agency leaders. In one group, Michal Ilana Freedhoff, the EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), and Ya-Wei “Jake” Li, the deputy assistant administrator for pesticide programs at OCSPP, were joined by Ed Messina, the director of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, and members of their staff. Staff from the EPA’s Office of Water made up another group.
NAAA also had extended visits with Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), the
ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
Committee, and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who also sits on the
A mix of curiosity and bona fide interest attracted too many passersby to count, but having a Bell 206 from Helicopter Applicators Inc. (HAI) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on display with spray booms and a bucket for water scooping out was enough to get scores of onlookers passing by to ask questions and take pictures by the helicopter.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack reflected on the creation of the USDA 160 years ago in remarks he delivered at Ag Day on the Mall on National Ag Day. The secretary may have drawn an even larger crowd as he visited with several exhibitors and checked out the impressive machinery during a walk around the “floor” of the outdoor event. Monday’s keynote speaker was Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
NAAA enjoyed spending two very productive days taking advantage of the opportunity to educate policymakers and the public about the importance of agricultural aviation. The association greatly appreciates HAI operator Glenn Martin for supplying a helicopter and allowing members of his crew to participate in the multi-day event, including the setup day last Friday. Special thanks also go to HAI Director of Safety Joe Stambaugh and pilot Brock Heffner for their constant availability to visit with people stopping by the helicopter and their willingness to show them around and discuss the myriad types of application work helicopters and ag planes do.
President Perrin was an outstanding spokesperson in his interactions with the media and policymakers. He and his wife, Julie, were also extremely welcoming to anybody who stopped to check out the helicopter display.
Of course, Ag Day on the Mall would not have been possible without the tremendous planning and effort by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers to organize this fantastic event.